Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lufthansa's economy 'Sleepers Class' idea for long-haul routes

Get a load of this: German flag carrier Lufthansa is exploring the idea of an all-sleeper configuration for economy-class cabins on long-haul flights, according to an article on FlightGlobal.com. The airline reportedly has sent an email survey to some customers asking their opinion about this concept:

The airline has generated a conceptual image of the proposed ‘Sleepers Class’ cabin, showing a possible arrangement featuring fully lie-flat bunks stacked three-high in a herringbone layout on either side of the cabin, with additional berths in a wide central aisle.

Star Alliance member Lufthansa is considering the sleeper-cabin for specific intercontinental services – possibly overnight flights, such as those to Johannesburg, Sao Paulo and Shanghai – although the carrier says that it has not progressed to the stage of examining potential specific routes.

Under the scheme a passenger would opt to book a bed for the flight rather than a regular economy-class seat. It is unclear whether the beds would convert from a seating layout.

A spokeswoman for Lufthansa confirms that the airline is formally looking into the idea, and running a customer survey, although she adds: “Of course there’s no final decision yet. There are, as such, no certain plans whether or not to realise an idea like this.”
Looks sorta like an airborne bunkhouse or hostel to me. Would passengers like to be stowed on multiple layers like that? It might add a whole new dimension to all the jokes about pax as 'SLF' (Self-Loading Freight).

I have to admit that one of the first thoughts that popped into my head when I saw the photo was what the implications would be for an emergency evacuation. Other safety-related questions come to mind as well. Do the berths convert to upright seats for takeoff and landing? And what if a passenger fell from an upper berth during turbulence?

What do you think?

[Photo Source]


MS said...

I think I might like it. Presumably that "seating" arrangement wouldn't take affect until everyone was in the air and had been fed. But I guess I won't experience that on the short flights from DC to Europe.

Anonymous said...

As a recent passenger on an overnight cross-Atlantic flight, this would beat trying to sleep in a semi-upright position! Still the sardine-can feel, but at least not quite as contorted. Of course, I'd want to be able to sit TOO, but that's probably asking too much.

Matthew C. Keegan said...

This could be a good thing, especially since knowing else is doing it. I can see it being particularly beneficial for north-south travel where there may be only a one or two time zone difference, say Berlin to Jo'Burg.

B. N. Sullivan said...

Thank you ms, anonymous, and Matt for your comments. Looks like the passenger point of view is positive thus far.

Sheila said...

I think it is great that an airline is trying to think of ways to increase comfort in coach.

B. N. Sullivan said...

Thanks for your comment, Sheila. Your opinion seems to match that of the majority of passengers I've heard from, including those who responded to me privately.

On the other hand, the flight attendants who emailed responses to me about this idea all seemed to have concerns about the safety aspects of such a cabin -- especially the multi-layer berths.

Guess it depends on your point of view, i.e.,whether you're looking at the idea as a passenger or as a member of the cabin crew.

Anonymous said...

It's too open (no privacy). If they added walls between the beds, it would make a huge difference.

Anonymous said...

I don´t like it. I think that is not confortable. But I never fly a long-haul fligth so...